Disney World can be a magical vacation, but it can also be a bit overwhelming if you’re a first timer. The idea of planning a visit to “the most magical place in the world” can be a little daunting if you’re new, but I’m here to break down some basic Disney World tips. As a Florida resident and annual pass holder for years, I know the ins and outs of Disney World and planned countless weeklong vacations and weekend trips here. So I am here to share some of my best Disney World tips for first timers and anyone else who would like this extra bit of knowledge.
My Top 10 Disney World Tips
As a certified Disney vacation planner, these are my top Disney World tips for first timers and the advice I always share with my clients. If you are looking to organize a future trip to Disney World, let me take some of the stress off and book your resort stay, link your tickets, wake up early to book your Fastpasses and dining reservations. It always helps to have an extra person looking out and giving an extra two cents about Disney World. Email me for a free quote to get started.
1. Stay on Property
By staying at one of the Disney World properties, you receive many benefits. One of the main benefits of staying at a WDW hotel is that you can get Extra Magic Hours. This means that you can get into certain parks one hour before other people or one hour later. There is a schedule that lets you know which park has the early or late Magic Hour. Your hotel will have that information. Take advantage of this great opportunity by going to the park with the Early Magic Hour, so that you can ride more with less
Although some people will tell you if you plan on doing Disney on a budget, then stay at an off-site hotel. I would argue against this point. Besides the extra magic hour, you will be closer to your desired park, you have free transportation available, free parking, Disney theming, and you don’t have to walk around with the items you buy from a Disney store (they will deliver it for free to your hotel room).
You can even get a little creative and rent DVC points. This allows you to stay at deluxe hotels for less! Check out why booking a DVC rental is a worthwhile option. Now, if you are looking for a cheaper alternative, then check out my detailed review on Disney Value Resorts. If you are willing to spend a little more on your hotel budget, then the Disney Moderate Resorts could be for you.
2. Arrive At the Park Early
This is Disney World for first timers 101 – meaning it is vital that you arrive at the park early! Whichever park you decide to visit, make sure your group arrives 15-20 minutes before it opens. That means scheduling breakfast and transportation times ahead of schedule to ensure you make it to the park before the 9 AM rope drop. Once you arrive, head straight to one of the popular rides so that you will get it out of the way with
3. Schedule Your Disney Fast pass
Once you buy your tickets to the parks and book your hotel room, you have done the two most important steps. The next one is to schedule your Disney Fast Pass. Forgetting to do this ahead of time is one of the biggest Disney World mistakes you can make!
Disney gives you three of these to use at any park to help you wait less on some popular attractions. Download the Disney Fastpass App called My Disney Experience and click on schedule Fastpass. You can schedule your Disney Fast Pass up to 60 days in advance if you are staying at a WDW hotel. To read some general tips on how to maximize your time at the parks, read Disney Fastpass Secrets. For more specific parks, click on the following:
- Disney Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategy
- Best Epcot Fastpass Strategy
- Best Magic Kingdom Fastpass Strategy
- Best Animal Kingdom Fastpass Strategy
Check Out: 40 Magical Photos from Walt Disney World
4. Bring Water and Snacks
This is a key way to do Disney on a budget. Disney allows you to bring in food to the parks (except for giant coolers). I highly advise that you bring
I understand that many people fly in, but make it a point to stop by a grocery store or have your groceries delivered to your hotel. It is one of the biggest mistakes to avoid at Disney World.
5. Eat Meals Early or Late
This is one of the Disney World Tips I share that most people have a hard time with. Try to eat your lunch and dinner a little earlier or later than the usual times to avoid massive crowds. By eating lunch before noon or dinner before 6, you will save a great deal of time. Here are some of my favorite Animal Kingdom restaurants and Magic Kingdom restaurants.
6. Make Dinner Reservations
You can schedule dinner reservations on the My Disney Experience App. As soon as you have your hotel, tickets, and Fastpass scheduled, you can check dining menus and make a reservation at many resort and theme park restaurants. They do require a credit card to book, but will not charge you unless you are a no show or do not cancel within 24 hours of your dining time. If you do not see the reservation time you’d like, try checking back later as people often cancel and your time slot “magically” opens up.
7. Don’t Ignore Your Feet
One of the best Disney tips I can share is to wear comfortable shoes! Chances are you will be walking a lot when you are at the parks, so be sure to add the right sneakers to your Disney World packing list.
8. Schedule a Rest Day
One of the major Disney World tips is to try and
9. Use WDW Transportation
This is one Disney tip that is very useful. Disney buses are fantastic. Use them because they are free! There are bus stops at each hotel and at each park. Disney also offers the Minnie Van service which is basically an Uber to the parks (for a fee), but I really don’t recommend that. Uber does provide transportation as well and can be a great option because they will drop you right off in the front and it is less walking than from the bus stop. If you are not staying on a Disney property, you will have to pay to park at the theme parks.
10. Go to Disney Springs
Disney Springs, formerly Downtown Disney, is a fantastic destination for shopping, dining,
Bonus: Disney World Tips for First Timers
Use the Disney child swap if you have a child that does not meet the height requirement for the ride, so that adults can take turns riding. If you have one child who is tall enough and one that is not, the older one can actually go twice (with each parent)! Read more tips on how to use the Disney rider switch.
Check Out Fun Things to do Nearby
Orlando is one of the best cities to visit while on a road trip in Florida, but there are other things to do besides Disney World. Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure are both fantastic parks, and it is very likely your older kids will love them. International Drive also has tons of activities, dining, and attractions for the whole family.
Consider a Disney Cruise
Are you looking to combine a Disney Cruise vacation with a Disney World stay? Nothing extends the magic more than combining a Disney cruise with your WDW vacation. If you are planning on doing both a visit to Disney World and a Disney Cruise, I recommend doing your trip to the parks first and then finish it off with a Disney Cruise out of Port Canaveral (and visiting Castaway Cay). Here’s why – while a Disney World vacation is fantastic, it is not always relaxing. You are waking up early, running around the parks, and trying to make it to the next attraction for days. On a Disney Cruise, you will vacation at a much slower pace and be pampered by the signature Disney service and realize why a Disney Cruise vacation is worth the cost.
As a Disney travel agent, I can share my tips and tricks about cruising with Disney, guide you through online-check in, provide free onboard credit, and go over what types of things to do on/off the ship. By the way, my services are completely free! If you’re interested in a free quote or even if you have already booked and would like to transfer it over so that I can help you, email me and we can get started.
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4 thoughts on “Disney World Tips for First Timers”
All great tips! Thanks!
Thank you – these tips are wonderful & useful. My favorite is to schedule a rest day – so important with young kids!
I have a feeling you’ve done this a time or two? Haha! All great points. The ease of staying on property is vacation changing. Park the car and let Disney do the rest. Sometimes I will drive to the parks, but I love me a bus ride back to the hotel after a twelve hour day of hoofing it.
Would love to experience Disney again for the first time, but alas, that ship has sailed. Great tips!